Children of prisoners

A review of the impact of parental imprisonment on children

Children of prisoners: an invisible group?

Children of prisoners are at risk of substantially poorer outcomes. They are over twice as likely to suffer mental health problems compared to their peers, and are at increased risk of poverty and poor housing. They are also significantly more likely to end up in the criminal justice system themselves: 65% of boys with a convicted parent go on to offend.

Despite these outcomes, children of prisoners remain an ‘invisible’ group. There is no shared, robust information on children of prisoners, where they live or which services are in touch with them.

Yet parental imprisonment presents a clear ‘trigger point’ opportunity for preventative interventions to support children and their families. However, at present, this does not happen.

Crest’s project in partnership with Porticus will involve a review of the issues affecting the children of prisoners, our findings of which will be presented in a report including clear recommendations for policy and practice.

What are we doing?

Crest’s children of prisoners project with Porticus will enable a better understanding of:

  • who children of prisoners are
  • how they can be effectively identified
  • the extent, nature and root causes of their poorer outcomes
  • how their needs can be met with systematic and continued support

Crest’s review aims to examine the evidence in order to better understand the existing institutional response. We will look in particular at the role of local authorities (children’s services/ safeguarding), schools and prisons. Our research will examine the issue from the child’s point of view – identifying the impact on a child of having a parent in prison.

The final report for the project will make recommendations for improvements in both policy and practice. It will be published in the autumn.

Get involved

Children affected by parental imprisonment are a disadvantaged and vulnerable group. By systematically identifying and supporting children with a parent in prison, in a manner that puts children’s needs and perspectives at its core, we hope to make recommendations to break the cycle of crime and poor outcomes associated with parental imprisonment.

If you have insight to share, please share your views by contacting a member of the project team, or by leaving a comment on the Crest blog.

Porticus UK forms part of an international organisation that supports charitable projects through a grant giving programme. Porticus collaborates with partners to promote human dignity and social justice.


Crest are an independent criminal justice and policing-focused consultancy. Crest have worked for more than half of British police forces, as well as the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, to analyse, develop and communicate the strategies and insights needed to help build safer communities.


About us:

Sarah Kincaid

Sarah Kincaid

Head of Strategy and Insight

Sarah is a highly experienced policy professional, with 20 years of experience working in Whitehall, arms-length bodies and the voluntary sector.

Manon Roberts

Manon Roberts

Policy & Research Analyst

Manon Roberts is a Policy & Research Analyst at Crest. Previous prison-based experience in family work and substance misuse means Manon has seen first-hand the effects of criminal justice policy reforms on service users and their families. She is passionate about engaging service users and gaining their perspectives to inform recommendations for positive change.

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